Adventures in Tracking...
We had five free range Roosters last week. All but one were taken in the night. The first to meet the dim fate was one of the youngest. At night he perched low on a bench, making him an easy target. I found his remains in the barn, only the breast missing. It was almost as if he was just killed for sport. I wondered if Milo the barn cat had anything to do with it. Two days later the next was taken. I say this shamefully but neither of the first were terribly missed like the following two.
There was a break in the killing spree, almost a week. Then it picked up again. Our pet Roo Jeeves being the next. We were all sadden by the loss of our beloved Jeeves. We tried to catch the remaining two but could only catch one. The elusive Belvedere met his fate the following night.
The loss of my boys weighed in my subconscious mind. I dreamed I found Jeeves in the woods, injured but alive. The dreamed lingered in my mind. I decided to investigate... "just maybe", I had hoped.
Last night after I set my live trap, I had traced the path down the hillside but then the trail turned to the North side of the property. The cold evening air lingered on my face but as I found more evidence my adrenalin kept me warm. I followed the trail to a clearing in the fence. I was startled by the downed fence and cleared brush. I wondered, "am I dealing with an animal!?!?!" The night sky was quickly falling on me and with my new startling evidence I decided that I had carried it far enough. Quietly the moon illuminated my chilling walk back towards the house.
Today I bundled up my littlest one. "Were going to solve a mystery, Aubs" I announced. Aubs was excited to be apart of anything mysterious. I assumed he over heard my plans to go for a stroll as he grabbed his snow suit and began to rummage around for his missing fish net.... but then he announced, "Lets go squirrel hunting".
Kids often have a set of plans of their own. I obliged his squirrel hunting tale and off we went... Aye BUT not before I distracted his attention from the search of the fishing net, or course.
We made our way towards the barn. The slew of feathers scattered around the barnyard and field made it look as if there had been a massacre of greater numbers than 4. I found no feathers of the little ones but Belvedere and Jeeves were easily found. I suspect they put up the greatest fight.
My trap was empty... perhaps my predator wasn't a scavenger? Maybe he didn't like my selection of scrap bait (pizza and eggs)? We picked up the trail at the (missing) fence again. Upon daylight examination, deer had probably just knocked down the old loosely strung wire. There was a heavily trampled path through the open fence. Yes the wild critters use this path often.
I was about 3 feet on the opposite side of the north property line when I notice the blood splatter painted across the leaves. There were a few stray feathers (Belvedere's) but much blood. I followed the worn narrow path down into a barn on the abandoned piece of property. Inside the lean-to on the north side of the barn I found a narrow burrow/ tunnel? I had finally came to an end.... all roads lead to home??? Is this the culprits home?
I decided to pick up the other trail. Following the trail that Jeeves had left on the east side of property line. The colorful leaves laid heavy along the ground. Aubs walked carefully beside me. I was very surprised by how quiet he was. Was he actually listening to the wilderness too?
A creamy colored object caught me eye. I did a double take but realized that it wasn't a bone. I silently took note that it was just the skin of a rotten Delicata Squash.
"Momma, its a bone", Aubs delightfully squealed out his discovery. I squatted down next to him, picking up the dried squash skin "Its the same color as bone, but look" I opened the paper-like fold to reveal a large pocket of seeds. "Its an old skin from our Delicata squash". He shook his head, conveying that he understood and then picked up a few of the seeds and placed them in his pocket.
Once again the breeze blew by. I stood quietly listening. Then my focus was broken, Aubs! Where is he? I quickly turned to my right where he stood eerily quiet. His vision gazed off into the thick forest ahead. He is still searching... listening. The same child that would cry to have to step foot outside was listening to the wind.... maybe he is going to be an outdoorsy kid after all???
I stood beside him, quietly taking in the moment. Waiting patiently for him to get his fill of the great outdoors.
His movement broke the serenity of the moment. We walked a few more feet and then the faint smell of carcass tickled the senses yet again. Then I noticed it... A bone. I squatted down examining the area. The bone had been cleaned. What ever took Jeeves wasted very little of him. I scanned the area further for more , but I found nothing. Maybe there was more there that laid hidden... or perhaps my sense of smell has indeed been heightened since kicking my nasty little habit of cigarettes.
At that moment... I came full circle. Jeeves, Belvedere, the predator, the tracks, the leaves, the burrow, the vultures, connecting with my son, learning, listening, following... It all connected. At that moment... we all become one, apart of something bigger better and amazing.
I don't know what in the hell I tracked today.... but yeah, I found something... something larger than myself.